Question about mod tools and techniques

Modding school: Learn it from the masters
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MandelSoft
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Posts: 3763
Joined: 08 Aug 2013 10:48
Location: Zoetermeer [NL]

08 Aug 2013 11:15

Hello everyone,

First of all, congrats with the release of the Scandinavia Map Mod for ETS2. From what I've seen, it looks gorgeous and I really appreciate your work on it. However, there are still some map features in the overall game I'm not satisfied with, but instead of complaining about them, I'd like to contribute to the map to deal with the problems at hand. Motivation is not the problem, as well as skill (I'm modding SimCity 4 for years now and I've made quite some models with 3D Studio Max). The only problem are the tools. Here are my questions regarding on that front:
  • How can you add new models to the game?
    I do have 3D Studio Max, but I don't know how to convert the models to something that can be used in this game, if that's even possible at all. I've heard about zModeler, but I don't know where I can get this (for free preferably; I'm a student and I don't have that much money). The things I want to change are signage (which is in some countries downright unrealistic or confusing (especially in France and Germany)), power pylons (the current ones don't fit the country style 90% of the time) and streetlights (only Belgium and Poland are correct, and in lesser extent, Luxembourg. The rest from the standard map looks off).
    I've already heard how to add new textures for place name destinations, so I think I can deal with that...
  • How did you manage to get different road markings for Norwegian and Swedish roads?
    I'd like to apply such a different road marking in the Netherlands too so they look like this. This would make the Netherlands more typically dutch. It may be even possible to change the painted arrows too, so we can get the corresponding painted arrows for each country.
I hope with some help from you I can help you out cranking up the realism of this game ;)

Best,
MandelSoft
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ScuL
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08 Aug 2013 23:11

Thanks that you like and appreciate our work. The things that you are describing were one of the most time consuming alterations we have done in our mod.

In comparison to other map mods out there we have:
* added correct traffic railings/barriers/guardrails for every country
* added correct traffic lights for every country
* added correct road posts (reflective posts) for every country
* added correct lamp posts / lights for every country
* enabled a fully compatible license plate system with correct fonts
* used correct traffic signs
* used correct navigation signs & portals including colours & fonts
* added landmarks

This is in bleak contrast to some other mods who simply use German signs in Spain or falsified fonts :D
MandelSoft wrote:[*]How can you add new models to the game?
I do have 3D Studio Max, but I don't know how to convert the models to something that can be used in this game, if that's even possible at all. I've heard about zModeler, but I don't know where I can get this (for free preferably; I'm a student and I don't have that much money). The things I want to change are signage (which is in some countries downright unrealistic or confusing (especially in France and Germany)), power pylons (the current ones don't fit the country style 90% of the time) and streetlights (only Belgium and Poland are correct, and in lesser extent, Luxembourg. The rest from the standard map looks off).
We use Zmodeler3 and both pay for it (out of own pocket). It is payware only and the author deserves it because the software is great. You can also use Blender with a Blender2SCS plug-in but I don't like the interface.
The biggest problem in converting models to work in ETS2 is that most software packages render texturs in up to 100 different JPG's. This can't be used in ETS2. Everything must be baked into 1 material (preferably 512x512 pixels) so this means you need to perform texture baking which is very very time intensive (the Malmö tower cost 2 days).
MandelSoft wrote: [*]How did you manage to get different road markings for Norwegian and Swedish roads?
I'd like to apply such a different road marking in the Netherlands too so they look like this. This would make the Netherlands more typically dutch. It may be even possible to change the painted arrows too, so we can get the corresponding painted arrows for each country.[/list]
This is a mixture of heavily modifying lines.dds, road.sii, roadlooks and hacking of textures (replace existing materials with new road materials). In some cases we painted the lines on the road texture (baked into the DDS).
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MandelSoft
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09 Aug 2013 10:19

Thank you for your response, though I have some points I have comments on:
ScuL wrote: * added correct traffic lights for every country
I beg to differ. For instance, the Swedish stoplights never look like this:
Image

They don't use arm posts. Instead they do this:
Image
In fact, stoplights in Scandinavia are more similar to the style used in the UK than in the rest of Europe.
ScuL wrote: * added correct lamp posts / lights for every country
Again, I beg to differ. I know modeling is hard, but I can clearly see that you used the modified version of the Belgian lamp posts for Sweden. The post itself looks OK, but the lamps themselves are very, VERY un-Swedish.
ScuL wrote: * used correct navigation signs & portals including colours & fonts
Well, again, the Swedish one are quite off here (Norway and Denmark look pretty OK). With Swedish signage, each arrow should point to one lane. However, you seem to make the same mistake as SCS did in France and Germany, which highly annoys me:

Image

Signs like this make me think that two lanes continue, while only one lane actually does continue (also, this type of interchangs is also not really Swedish. I personally hate these one-lane-continues interchanges, because you can't find them on motorways here anywhere.

Also, this design doesn't make any sense in that regard:
Image

Something simmilar to the following design makes much better sense:
Image
ScuL wrote: We use Zmodeler3 and both pay for it (out of own pocket). It is payware only and the author deserves it because the software is great. You can also use Blender with a Blender2SCS plug-in but I don't like the interface.
The biggest problem in converting models to work in ETS2 is that most software packages render texturs in up to 100 different JPG's. This can't be used in ETS2. Everything must be baked into 1 material (preferably 512x512 pixels) so this means you need to perform texture baking which is very very time intensive (the Malmö tower cost 2 days).
Hmmm, that's a bit too bad that there's no free version available of Zmodeler or some plugin for 3DS Max I could use.

But on the texture wrapping front: I was already expecting that; it would be similar to SC4 Automata modding (cars, trains, planes and such), which can also use only one or a few textures, and you have the be careful with wrapping the UV co-ordinates.
ScuL wrote: This is a mixture of heavily modifying lines.dds, road.sii, roadlooks and hacking of textures (replace existing materials with new road materials). In some cases we painted the lines on the road texture (baked into the DDS).
OK, I'll unpack your mod then and analyse what you've done then ;)

Best,
MandelSoft
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ScuL
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09 Aug 2013 10:47

The usage of the signage has to do with SCS incorrect and unrealistic implementation of motorway junctions. It can't be helped unless they were to change the game, but in the end it is a game. I disagree with the other points you raised.

All I was trying was to be helpful in explaining what we did
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MandelSoft
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09 Aug 2013 11:01

Then why don't you apply signage to make the situation clear instead of blaming it on SCS that their interchange designs make no sense? It is no use for the player to be misguided. Just use a proper sign showing that only ONE lane continues and then that will do the job for now.

Besides, you have managed to make new modular prefab pieces too, so custom interchanges shouldn't be a problem, so I don't get your comment on that motorway junctions can't be helped. Custom intersections would be a bit harder to implement, but I think not impossible.

As for the other points I raised, FYI, I've spend 2 weeks in Sweden, traveled like 1500 km through the country and as a road geek I pay attention on these things. I know what I'm talking about. I've done my research on this subject. For stoplights, just check any random intersection in Sweden with Streetview and then you know what I'm talking about that they use no arm posts...
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ScuL
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09 Aug 2013 11:08

Because no such signage exists in real life as these type of motorway junctions don't exist. SCS has done the same in France.

In many countries the double arrows only give a general sense of direction rather than implying they are there for 2 lanes. This is valid for both Denmark as well as Sweden and trust me I know I have been to these countries 30+ times.
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MandelSoft
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09 Aug 2013 11:38

Can you give me one example then where this happens? Because all I know and see is that one arrow = one lane, and on every location in Google Streetview I look, this system is confirmed:

Germany:
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=53.142179,8. ... 2,,1,-4.57

France:
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=50.30522,3.3 ... 2,,0,-2.29
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=49.811274,3. ... 9,,0,-8.66

Denmark:
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=55.349076,10 ... 61,,0,6.93

Sweden:
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=58.4296,15.6 ... 2,,0,-0.55
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=58.959243,17 ... 2,,1,-3.57
https://maps.google.nl/?ll=59.176403,17 ... 4,,1,-1.52

So I ask you again, can you give a counter-example to proof me wrong?

EDIT:
I see I can't unpack or even read the data from the packages because they are password-secured, so I can't even analyse what you did. I think I finally give up on modding this game...
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anonymson
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Joined: 19 Aug 2013 16:15
Location: Linköping

19 Aug 2013 16:37

It's a nice mod you've made that includes Scandinavia, but I have to agree with MandelSoft on many of his points. Since I'm Swedish I know what roads and whatnot in Sweden looks like, trust me.
  • You have the lamp posts wrong, but that's okay with me.
  • There are no traffic light posts with arms like that in Sweden. They look like this: Image
    Image
  • Your Swedish signs are seriously f-ed up. Nowhere in this country do we have more arrows pointing in a direction than there are lanes.
    Then, this sign:
    Image

    You got the colours somewhat right at least. The arrows are too big in comparison to the text, and the white capital text should use the TRATEXNEGVERSAL variant of Tratex. The arrows also need to be two ahead and one turning left, the turn integrated into the ahead arrow, like the example MandelSoft posted. We don't sign "Helsinki", that's the Finnish name, we sign "Helsingfors". There's probably more details, but I think this will suffice.

    Again, it's admiriable that you want to recreate the Scandinavian countries, but if you're so dedicated that it seems you are, do your research properly instead of saying "you're wrong, we'll do it this way" all the time.

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MandelSoft
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19 Aug 2013 20:47

OK, so it's been a while, but I finally got across the modeling tool problem. I got a SCStoBlender plugin that allows me to open and edit models in Blender, and so far, I'm starting to get the hang of Blender. My first modifications of standard signs have been quite successful, though they need some tweaking:

Image Image

I've modified the layout of these signs a bit. Heck, I even use custom arrow textures with it and it works just fine!

Especially the second one is a welcome addition in my eyes. It's a pre-sign indicating that the lanes are going to split, preventing last-second lane switching, especially at night this could be a problem. This is still a major annoyance in the game, but you can't say that it's impossible to change the models to the specs to represent the situation at hand, which makes navigation for the end-user less confusing. And we all like to serve our customers well ;)

Of course, this is just only one country where this happens. I still need to tweak the ones in France, Austria and the Czech Republic...

This is one case of the "if you don't like something, do something about it" approaches...

Best,
MandelSoft.
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ScuL
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20 Aug 2013 09:52

anonymson wrote:It's a nice mod you've made that includes Scandinavia, but I have to agree with MandelSoft on many of his points. Since I'm Swedish I know what roads and whatnot in Sweden looks like, trust me.
Let me start by saying that I'm not trying to be an arse I simply disagree with the criticism as I am a very experienced visitor of Sweden and everything has been done based on thorough research and real life experience.
I've never lived in Sweden but I went there for the first time in 1989 and I've been there nearly 30 times, I work for a Swedish company now and speak Swedish daily and fluently. I've seen Sweden from the corners of Skåne to roughly about Dalarna and am extremely familiar with Swedish traffic systems & road signage.
anonymson wrote: [*]You have the lamp posts wrong, but that's okay with me.
No we don't they are modelled 1:1 on Google Streetview + images
anonymson wrote: [*]There are no traffic light posts with arms like that in Sweden. They look like this: Image
OK there is a mistake here.
This is our Swedish traffic light:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/ ... 1309_o.jpg

Also see this thread:
http://www.promods.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=417

We did model the Swedish traffic lights correctly but they have been switched off last minute because they were causing stability problems and we may re-release them in a future update.

Please note that we have not modelled the new 2012 style "round" lights with LEDs as they are not very frequent (yet).
anonymson wrote:
[*]Your Swedish signs are seriously f-ed up. Nowhere in this country do we have more arrows pointing in a direction than there are lanes.
Then, this sign:
Image

You got the colours somewhat right at least. The arrows are too big in comparison to the text, and the white capital text should use the TRATEXNEGVERSAL variant of Tratex. The arrows also need to be two ahead and one turning left, the turn integrated into the ahead arrow, like the example MandelSoft posted.
You're wrong there, I have modelled this sign upon Google Streetview images of actual signs in cities (predominantly Stockholm, Göteborg anywhere with lots of lanes).
The big arrows are quite normal like here:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=v%C3%A ... 95.28,,0,0
and here:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=v%C3%A ... .5,,0,1.81

The amount of navigation signs created for Sweden exceeds 20 types, this is nearly double from what SCS have created for the other countries.
There are too many specific situations (and also unrealistic situations like the highway splitting junctions) to accommodate correct arrows in every situation. PLUS you probably don't realise that the place where arrows are stored (symbol.dds) has limited space to fit any new type of arrow (such as 1 arrow branching off from another one).
anonymson wrote: We don't sign "Helsinki", that's the Finnish name, we sign "Helsingfors". There's probably more details, but I think this will suffice.
There is an EU-directive which states that European city names in other countries must be referred to in their local names.
10 years ago you would still find signs to "Keulen" and "Aken" in NL, now they have been replaced with "Köln" and "Aachen".
As a result of this most signage in Sweden towards Helsingfors has been replaced with Helsinki and we stuck with that rule.
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